I used to have a CD called Making God Smile: An Artists’ Tribute to the Songs of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, which I adored – maybe a little too much. I loved it so much I wanted to share it, loaned it to an out-of-town friend, and never got it back. To make matters worse, I had (for some reason) only ripped a few favorite tracks to my computer, not the whole thing. And I don’t think those few tracks survived from that computer to the one I own now.
Well, when I was using an Amazon gift card for my birthday the other night, I looked for items on my wish list, and it was only $6.95, so I figured this was as good a time as any to replace it. My new copy arrived today.
This is a hard CD to explain, but I just love it. As the title indicates, it’s a tribute album, with various covers of Brian Wilson songs. Most of those tributes are by people who (if I’ve heard of them at all) are known as Christian artists – including two of my all-time favorites, Terry Scott Taylor and Randy Stonehill. Terry’s work in Daniel Amos and The Swirling Eddies has always been heavily influenced by both Brian Williams and The Beatles, so it’s no surprise that he’d be a part of this. The album also includes Phil Keaggy and Sixpence None The Richer.
But this isn’t a Christian album per se. There is some spirituality to it, to the extent that some of Brian’s songwriting tends towards that, but not the over, ham-handed spirituality found in most quote-Christian-unquote music. And there are plenty of other cuts that are just fun Beach Boys stuff.
The covers are fun – some hew close to the originals, others veer off. Kevin Max, formerly of DC Talk, and Jimmy Abegg, who played in Vector and for Rich Mullins, and now is a member of Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil, the band I saw last November and won’t shut up about, offer a delightfully-weird, slowed-down version of “Help Me Rhonda,” giving it an almost morbid quality.
I think my favorite cut, though, is the very first one. Tom Prasada-Rao and Amilia K. Spicer’s duet on “Your Imagination” is just beautiful, bright and melodic, with wonderful harmony. I bet it made Brian Wilson smile. Which leads me to the question you always have with a collection like this – what did the honoree think of it? Had Brian heard of any of these people before? (I’m sure he’s heard of Sixpence, and perhaps he even remembered Phil Keaggy from his days in Glass Harp.) Did he enjoy what they did with his music? I would love to know.
Obviously, he’s not opposed to tributes to his work, such as that all-star BBC video from last year.
All of this, of course, is getting me primed for the Brian Wilson biopic coming out this summer: